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Columbus Latin American Association

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Rocio Rodriguez

Country of Origin Mexico
Length of Time in Columbus 16 months, in U.S. 9 years.
Reason for Move : The Company I work for - Cummins Inc. - moved me from Nashville, TN to Columbus, IN.
Education & Profession Major in Psychology – Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, MBA – Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico City, Executive Training, - The University of Chicago
Family Members I come from a Family of seven children, I am the one in the middle, and have two brothers and four sisters. I moved to U.S. by myself, don’t have children, just have my Cocker Spaniel, “Dante.” He has been a great companion for me since I moved to U.S. in February of 2000 from Mexico City to Nashville, TN. He has become a bilingual doggy!

We, as any Mexican family, have been very close. We used to get together in my parents house every other Sunday for a family reunion just to see each other and enjoy being a family. My parents have passed away and now my brothers and sisters continue with such tradition to keep in close contact with each other. Of course when it is someone’s birthday, or Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, those are big celebrations….
Hobbies I like to spend time in my garden, don’t have “a green thumb” but still enjoy the outdoors and try every year to have my flowers to blossom.

I also like to read Latin American novels; I enjoy Gabriel Garcia Marquez and lately Isabel Allende. I also like very much to watch movies.
Childhood Years & Schooling I went to a Catholic School run by nuns. They were very strict, this was a school just for women. We needed to wear a uniform and they were checking on us to ensure we were clean, well dressed, and the uniform at a “decent” length below the knee… So, I grew up surrounded by rules and schedules. We had a sports class that I enjoyed very much, I was part of the volleyball team, so two days a week in the afternoon I needed to practice and enjoyed some “freedom” from the discipline of the nuns. However, that discipline helped me to be a good professional and a respectful human being. I spent 13 years in the same school, from Kindergarten through senior year of High school. There are six years for Elementary School, Three years for Middle School and Three years for High School.

How do you preserve and celebrate your heritage and culture? We in Latin American are a very lively community that likes to have fun, we like to celebrate with music and food.
Here is U.S. we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, that is more popular here than in Mexico itself. This is date to commemorate the battle that Mexicans won against the French in Puebla; it is not even an official holiday in Mexico. However it has become a big celebration of the Hispanic Heritage for people in U.S. There is also the Hispanic Heritage Month, that goes from September 15th to October 15th. During this month we celebrate the Independence of several Latin American countries. Mexico celebrates its Independence in September 16th.

Is there a celebration or festival that you particularly enjoy? I enjoy celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I usually get back home for these celebrations. We get together in my Sister’s house have presents for everyone and wait for Santa to come over and bring presents for the Children, not so many now since my nieces and nephews are growing up. It is a very Family oriented dinner, just my brothers, sisters their spouses and children. This is a special time of the year, being a Catholic family to get together and thank God for all what you have received during the year and also ask Him for any special favors.

During the week before Christmas, December 16th – 24th we have what we call “Las Posadas” these are daily parties in which we remember in a lively way the journey that the Virgin Maria and Saint Joseph had in order to get to Bethlehem. During these parties kids and adults break a “piñata” that symbolizes the evil….then everything is fun and celebration…. Music and dancing.

What do you enjoy about living in Columbus? Coming from a big city like Mexico City, I enjoy the feeling of security, the feeling of a small community where every one helps each other and almost knows each other, the open spaces that we can have in our back yards, and in the streets. The respect for the rules, the cleanness of the streets and parks.
Was it difficult to adjust to life in Columbus? Being a small town, it has been difficult not having several options on restaurants, shopping malls and cultural venues as Theater, Opera, and Ballet.
What do you miss about your native country? Mainly my family, then the food, music and of course being able to speak my mother tongue: Spanish. Sometimes I feel I can’t get across my message with the words in English.
What would you like other Columbus residents to know about your native country? That Mexico is a very hospitable place; we want every one to feel comfortable and welcome.